Oakland senior guard Max Hooper has attempted 189 field goals this season, and they all have been three-pointers. He is clearly an excellent shooter, and is fourth in the Horizon League in 3 point percentage at 46%. But c’mon…why have a proficient shooter only shoot from behind the arc? Is he not capable of making shots inside of 20 feet, 9 inches? Can he not dribble-drive and finish at the basket? Gimme a break! The Oakland Golden Grizzlies have been good at getting publicity over the years. Their players have their last names on their jerseys under the numbers, as opposed to above them. They have come up with trendy slogans like #WearTheBear. They even darkened their home floor to give the feeling of playing outside by calling it “blacktop.” But there is a big difference in doing things to get publicity and to get attention. Having a player shoot nothing but 3’s is clearly the latter. Let’s be clear that this is not Hooper’s fault. He is just doing what the coaches will allow him to do. He has a greenlight to shoot the long ball that almost never turns yellow or red. He is the product of a system in which he constantly curls off of screens and moves without the ball to catch and shoot behind the three point line. If he gets the ball inside of the arc, it is easy to see that he does not even consider shooting. This is actually detrimental to Hooper because it markets him as a one-dimensional player who can do little else but shoot three’s. Does it make sense for a boxer to forget about jabs or hooks and only throw uppercuts and crosses? Or should a pitcher to throw nothing but fastballs just because he can hit occasionally hit triple digits on the radar gun? Or should a tennis player only live at the baseline ripping ground strokes, while ignoring opportunities to volley and finish points at the net? Of course the answer to all of these questions is no. So why should a good player like Hooper limit his offensive talents to just shooting three’s? It just does not make sense.
This situation reminds me a bit of the Grinnell College Men’s basketball team and their ridiculous style of play. For those unfamiliar, Grinnell is a Division 3 team who essentially shoots three’s as often and as quickly as possible. This has allowed some of their players to reach such “feats” as scoring over 100 points in a game and the team to score in the high 100s. But what Grinnell does can barely be called basketball. Now I am not putting what Oakland is doing in the same ballpark as Grinnell, but it is in the same metropolitan area. As expected, Oakland has gained more national buzz due to Hooper shooting only three’s, such as when popular sports anchor Scott Van Pelt mentioned Hooper on his show or when Doug Gottlieb tweeted about him. The national buzz about it will only increase as March approaches. Whether you call it publicity or getting attention barely matters at this stage. But one cannot dispute that this is a calculated and strange move by a good team. It is somewhat amazing that Hooper has had the wherewithal not even to put a toe on the three-point line during one of his attempts. But the bottom line in basketball is winning. Players or teams should not have agendas to get personal accolades or records. Those should be the product of playing good basketball. Hooper clearly will not attempt a two point shot all season, and he will set a record that may not be touched for years…or until another team badly wants some exposure.